- Male adherence to a healthy diet could improve semen quality and fecundability rates.
- Male obesity and some components of the diet may play a pivotal role in modulating sperm production, sperm maturation and fertilizing ability.
- An increased intake of processed meats, dairy products and sweets was associated with a significantly higher risk of sperm immobility.
Many fertility clinics recommend simple lifestyle changes to improve sperm quality and fertility changes.
Increased physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy or yoga to reduce stress, reduced alcohol and caffeine intake and dietary recommendations are some of the lifestyle changes that is suggested. However, there is a lack of a proven scientific evidence regarding the role of diet in determining sperm parameters.
‘High intake of vitamin E, vitamin D and vitamin C, zinc, folate, total fiber, selenium and PUFAs was significantly associated with a lower risk of reduced sperm motility.’
Role of Diet in Sperm Quality
Researchers at the Human Nutrition Unit of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) and the Pere i Virgili Health Research Institute, (Tarragona-Spain) who are also members of the Ciberobn network of the Carlos III Health Institute, have conducted the first systematic review of all observational studies on sperm quality and male fecundability and their relationship with diet, food and nutrient consumption.
The results indicate that low sperm quality parameters are inversely associated with healthy diets rich in certain nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, certain antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C, β-carotene, selenium, zinc, cryptoxanthin and lycopene), vitamin D, folate and low saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids
Fish, shellfish, seafood, poultry, cereals, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and skimmed milk were positively associated with several sperm quality parameters.
In contrast, diets rich in processed meat, soy foods, potatoes, full-fat dairy and total dairy products, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets have been associated with lower-quality sperm in some studies.
A high intake of alcohol, caffeine, red meat and processed meat by males has a negative influence on the chance of pregnancy or fertilization rates of their partners.
According to the researchers, their review has provided a comprehensive overview of existing high-quality research into the effect of diet and the consumption of different foods and nutrients on fecundity and male fertility so that safer and more effective dietary recommendations can be made in the future.
These results highlight the fact that adherence to a healthy diet, e.g. the Mediterranean diet, by men could significantly improve their sperm quality and the fecundity of their partners.
- Dr Mōnica Bulló et al., Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies, Human Reproduction Update (2017)